Over the course of August 2019, the 2,300 staff at Microsoft’s Japanese headquarters tried out working on a 4-day per week basis, when they worked for four consecutive days and did not work on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays (Microsoft statement here – in Japanese). The trial run was part of the company’s ‘summer challenge’, aimed at improving work-life balance, and that included funding support depending on how workers invested in their free time activities. For instance, funding was available for those looking to develop competences and pastimes and for those looking to go on family holidays. Funds were also available to contribute to the costs of contributions made to communities, (e.g. travel costs related to voluntary work). After the trial Microsoft concluded that reducing weekly working time had raised work-time efficiency. Meetings for instance were shortened to just thirty minutes, some of which were conducted remotely. Energy costs and other consumption costs were also reduced. The company calculated that August productivity levels jumped 39.9% between 2018 and 2019, while workers’ job satisfaction rose significantly. Another new flexible working time trial is ready to roll out and this time is scheduled for the start of 2020.
Japan : Microsoft 4-day working week trial to promote ‘life choices at work’ and speed up changing attitudes
Planet Labor, 5 November 2019, n°11465 - www.planetlabor.com